Friday, August 31, 2007

National Garden of Wales

Several weeks ago Pauline, the wife of the preacher in Bristol, invited a few people from church to go on a bus trip with her painting class to the National Garden of Wales. It was on a Monday, so I spent Sunday night at Pauline and Trevor's house and then went on the trip the next day. I would tell the names of all of the flowers, but I don't have a clue! I just took pictures of some of the ones that I thought were pretty!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Gypsies in England

On the way to church in Bristol, we saw this caravan of gypsies beside the road. (I wish I had done a better job of taking the pictures.) There were 4 or 5 wagons and 6 or 7 horses.
When Julie was here, we saw a gypsy wagon stopped right in the middle of a walkway in the shopping area in Yeovil.

Gypsies are fairly common in England. They do not have any better reputation here than in the states----they are known for petty crimes, theft, fortune telling, begging and, as I read somewhere, "allergy to work". (Have you ever thought about the origin the word "gyp"?) Gypsies sometimes do seasonal farm work. They are known for their family loyalty and for their music.

The local governments continue to have problems deciding what to do about gypsies, because they really don't want them in their towns. One of the things that has been done is limiting areas where camping is allowed. But, of course, some people complain that it is discrimination, so there is a lot of debate about what to do, and laws are constantly being changed.

The history of gypsies is quite interesting, if you have time to look it up. One thing I learned was that gypsies were the 2nd largest group to be sent to concentration camps and put to death by the Nazis.

How many stones do you weigh?

If someone told you that she wanted to lose weight because her current weight is "11 stones", would you know what she was talking about? I didn't! So I had to ask her------one stone equals 14 pounds, so that person's weight is 154 pounds.
If her weight had been 158 pounds, she would have said, "11 stones and 4 pounds".

I looked up stone measurement information and found out that it was historically used for weighing agricultural commodities, such as potatoes. The potatoes would be sold in stone (14 lb.) and half stone (7 lb.) bags.
The stone measurement is no longer officially used for anything, but it is widely used casually in the UK (and in Australia and New Zealand) for body weight. I have heard it on TV here as well as in conversation. (Medically, the unit of measure for body weight is the kilogram.)

I think I would rather tell my weight in "stones", too, because the number sounds much better!!I posted the blog early this morning, and then on my walk today, I found this scale at the charity shop, so I had to add the photo! I had been wanting one to see how I am doing on weight as well as to weigh suitcases for our airplane trips. I thought it was really neat with a display for 3 types of weight----stone measurement on the top, pounds in the second row, and kilograms on the bottom! Now I can see if what I bought at the bakery is offset by carrying the scales home in my backpack! Maybe the scales in the backpack should be a permanent feature! (I am not sure about the duck design!)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hollies Hotel

We are staying at the Hollies Hotel. One section of the Hollies has motel-type rooms. The Hollies also owns several apartments (They call them "cottages".) that are a couple of blocks away from the main hotel.The hotel is owned by twin brothers. Their parents live above the restuarant, and one of the brothers lives in a house beside the restuarant.This is the Hollies restuarant. The building is several hundred years old.
This is the outside of the restuarant.
There is a new non-smoking law in England for businesses, so the Hollies built this outside area especially for smokers.
The motel area of the hotel
This is the outside of our apartment. Our door is the red one. You can see one end of a carport----it actually has room for 3 cars, and we get to use the middle part for our rent car. The second of the twin brothers lives in the house on the left.

The following are photos of the inside of our apartment and of the back patio area.

Notice our "big" refrigerator!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Lawn Bowling

Lawn bowling is very popular in England, especially among people with gray hair.... no, Ron and I have not taken it up yet!
This photo was taken at Lyme Regis (On my last post I wrote about the beach at this town.) at a tournament between lawn bowling clubs. Notice that everyone is required to wear certain clothing. Different countries have different clothing restrictions, for example, Scotland requires matching shoes and I think it is Canada that requires men to wear ties! White is the normal color for clothes.

The black balls are not perfectly round, which makes them curve when rolled. The weight of the balls depends on the type of lawn. The object of the game is for your team to win points by getting its balls as close as possible to the orange (usually white) ball, which is called the "Jack", on the other side of the field. (Kind of reminds me of horseshoes.)

I read that the first lawn bowling club in England began in 1299. In the 14th century it was banned for the common people in England and France, because it was competing with archery, which was essential for defense. Of course, those bans have long since been lifted, and the popularity of lawn bowling has grown even more. It is also played in the U.S., but I have not seen it. Maybe when Ron and I are both retired, we will try it????---I don't think so....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lyme Regis Beach

Lyme Regis is a beach that is within an hour of Martock. The town is a tourist spot, with lots of small shops and small hotels. One side of the jetty is a rocky beach, and the other side is sand. Notice how we are dressed at the beach in July!

These photos are of the rocky side. Lyme Regis is a Jurassic beach. The water rolls the rocks and uncovers previously unseen things. People frequently find fossils. All we found were fossils of sea shells. The kids really enjoyed playing in the rocks.

Notice the sack in Julie's hand. The sack is full of Katelyn's "special rocks" that she found on the beach.

The following are pictures of the jetty and the other side of the jetty. Sometimes we saw the surf spray fly 30 feet above the jetty. When you walk on the jetty, you end up covered in sea salt from the spray.

The girls dug a big hole and put Collin in the hole. He had a great time! The only way we got them out of the sand was to promise them ice cream cones!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Charity Shops

We have seen charity shops in almost every town, even the very small towns. The charity shops are run by volunteers, who decide what charities they wish to support. They accept donations of clothes, books, and household items, and then they sell them in the shop. The rent for the shop comes off the top of the profits, and then everything else is donated to charity.

The shop in Martock is very small, but it is stuffed with items for sale. They have lots of business----so if you see something you want, you better buy it, because it won't be there later! Prices are sometimes higher than garage sale prices, but still good. I have bought several kitchen items, such as extra forks, plastic plates for the kids, and extra serving bowls.(Our apartment has a furnished kitchen, so I have not had to buy much.)
The ladies at the shop say that there are about 20 volunteers (pretty good for a very small community). Those 20 people have decided to fund programs dedicated to children, such as Scouts, a children's hospital, needy children, etc. Last week one of the ladies told me that her son's life had been saved by a helicopter air-lift after a traffic accident. The volunteer group decided to support emergency air-lift last year with $4000.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dunster Castle

One of the places we visited was Dunster Castle. It was first a Norman fortress (11th century), and then it was a home for the Lutttrell family for 18 generations, beginning in 1405.
It really looks like a castle, but of course Lauren and Katelyn noticed that it was not pink or purple and did not have a princess in it!

The water in the photo is Bristol Bay. The cross-shaped hole in the upper part of the wall is one of the holes from which the archers would shoot.

The grounds are beautiful.

This is a photo of the horse stables.

The tower is called a folly. Follies were built to give visitors something to view from the windows of the castles or manor houses. They were purely decorations. What an expense just to impress visitors!

The national archery tournament is held here every year. There were probably at least 100 archers and targets lined up at one time, with many more archers waiting for their turns.